Opening a new restaurant is a daunting task. Once all the preparation and promotion is done, it’s up to consumers to take the plunge. But having a celebrity on board can make all the difference.
Whether you’re a chef whose work is admired by Robert De Niro, or a football legend with a passion for unique dining experiences, having a celebrity influence on a restaurant can only work wonders for promotion. And as long as the restaurant isn’t just a gimmick, it stands a good chance of succeeding.
Nobu, London – Robert De Niro
Renowned Hollywood actor Robert Di Niro is a co-owner of Japanese/Peruvian fusion restaurant chain Nobu. Led by Japanese celebrity chef, Nobu Matsuhisa, the restaurant chain has gone from strength to strength. Nobu was born in Saitama, Japan and after graduating high school went on to work at a sushi restaurant in Tokyo for seven years. One day he was invited to open a restaurant in Peru by a customer, and at the age of 24, he moved to Lima. As he struggled to find many of the authentic Japanese ingredients in Peru, Nobu developed a unique style of cooking, fusing the two cultures together.
In 1977, he moved to Los Angeles and opened his own restaurant ‘Matsuhisa’ in Beverly Hills. The restaurant was a huge success among celebrities, including Robert De Niro, who decided to invest in Nobu’s franchise. Today, there are more than 20 Nobu restaurants around the world. It appears that this renowned Hollywood star and innovative chef are a match made in heaven.
Crepes and Cones, London – Krept and Konan
Grime artists Krept and Konan kick-started their restaurant venture Crepes and Cones in May 2018. The Croydon restaurant focuses on American comfort foods such as chicken and waffles, burgers, hot dogs, crepes, waffles and other grilled food. All items on the menu are halal and there’s plenty of vegan options, too.
With seating for 120, and the rappers’ distinguished reputation, Crepes and Cones got off to a flying start when it opened in May. The duo told Capital 1xtra: “It’s been a long, long, long process. It’s not easy getting into this field of work.”
Within its first few weeks, the restaurant drew some criticism due to its extremely long queues and delays. Krept addressed this on Twitter, as reported in the Croydon Advertiser: “Since we’ve opened we’ve already had 5,500 customers packed every day. That kind of traffic for a brand new restaurant is a lot to get perfect straight away. So of course things are going to go wrong and there’s going to be enough mistakes etc.”
Despite its teething problems, Crepes and Cones has proved a hugely successful venture, and this is surely largely down to the artists’ success as artists. Krept added: “I’ve had so much genuine feedback on how to improve that we fix things almost instantly. A person even came on here (Twitter) that didn’t even get in because the kitchen was closed to say all my staff are rude. Tell me how you can make such a statement when you haven’t even stepped foot inside. Come on. My staff are young and really lovely and willing to learn.”
Rosso Restaurant & Bar, Manchester – Rio Ferdinand
Former Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand opened classy Italian restaurant Rosso in 2009. The eatery, frequented by celebrities, offers firm favourites including pizza, pasta and freshly-prepared fish dishes, all in a beautiful grade two listed building. Its name, meaning ‘red’ in Italian, is an ode to the footballer’s love for United. Rio Ferdinand’s ownership has certainly given this stylish restaurant clout, and its varied menu, coupled with cocktails, has proved a hit.
Rio Ferdinand isn’t the only footballer getting in on the restaurant action. Football legend Frank Lampard owns the freehold for Chelsea pub The Pig’s Ear, though it’s now under new ownership.
The Grapes, London – Sir Ian McKellen
Overlooking the Thames, The Grapes is one of the oldest pubs in London, and has the backing of legendary actor, Sir Ian McKellen. Charles Dickens was a patron of this beautiful old pub, and even referenced it in his novel Our Mutual Friend. Although the pub dates back some 500 years, its menu is fresh and exciting, serving delicious British classics with a contemporary twist, such as coriander and chilli-crusted lamb cutlets, fillet steak with asparagus, garlic and herb butter and mashed potato, and marinated scallops.
Sir Ian McKellen has lived in the borough of Tower Hamlets since 1980, and actively supports local businesses. In an interview with the East London Advertiser, he said: “The variety of cultures available in the Borough remains perhaps its most admirable characteristic. History and the future go hand in hand.”
While it is easy to suggest that celebrities only open restaurants as vanity projects, it’s reassuring to see that many Hollywood stars are simply trying to maintain interest in their local areas, and encourage support for independent businesses.
Image credit: InterContinental Hong Kong